Book Two introduces the second young hero, Hugh Kenrick, a member of the British aristocracy. While he has all the advantages that his rank bestows on him – family, wealth, prestige, and an assured future – his quest to preserve his self identity, his liberty, and his independence clashes violently with the demands of his station. The American Revolution was the capstone and apex of the European Enlightenment and an unprecedented philosophical and political event in human history. The second volume in Cline's epic about the foundations of the American Revolution (following Sparrowhawk, Book One: Jack Frake) follows precociously brilliant and rebellious English nobleman Hugh Kenrick. Kenrick show early on that his life among the aristocratic elite will be one of continuous conflict; as a schoolboy, he defies his malicious uncle, the Earl of Danvers. Key evidence of his nonconformance to aristocratic norms occurs early on, when he refuses to bow for the Duke of Cumberland during a politically important visit to his palatial home in Dorset. Hugh's talents are equal to his rebellious streak; he excels in academics, but decides to work for a tobacco merchant to learn a trade. His general curiosity leads to an involvement with a group of free thinkers called the Society of the Pippin, a small band that meets every week in a London tavern to discuss general philosophy and life under the monarchy. But disaster strikes when a member of the Society betrays the group to the authorities. The Pippins find themselves arrested, lodged in a perilous prison, and tried for treason and libeling the King. After a sham trial presided over by a judge promised a promotion to the House of Lords if he can indict the Pippins, who are valiantly, colorfully, but hopelessly defended by a barrister, Dogmael Jones, the surviving Pippins are consigned to a slow death in another infamous prison. By story's end, Hugh is aboard the Sparrowhawk bound for Virginia, where he will meet Jack Frake.
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